Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 09 - "The Building is Hungry!"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

George the hacker

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy,Horror - Published: 2009-10-07 - Updated: 2009-10-07 - 705 words - Complete

George sat bolt upright, wincing at the sudden, unexpected crunch of his movement on his midsection.

The last image in his mind was of a runaway carnival ride flying off its mountings, hurtling straight at him on its way to the ground. The strangled, inarticulate grunt he let out was the type he ordinarily kept a lid on, as it only seemed to encourage people to think he was retarded. It took him a moment to catch his breath, that lunatic musical collage still ringing in his ears as he stumbled away from the couch he only vaguely remembered falling asleep on in the first place.

Don’t let the building overwhelm you…

The custodian’s words came to mind as he halfway sat down on the couch again. Now he remembered his conversation with the custodian. Conversation… And finally figured out what was so strange about the whole thing.

Wondering if the custodian was still about, for something had snapped him awake, he glanced across the hall. A puzzled frown touched his lips as he looked and saw that there were no restrooms across from him. No custodial closet, either. He stared at the wall for a long time, finally concluding that it all must have been a dream. Rubbing the back of his head, where he could still feel faint scars from… an accident… or something that happened to him when he was a child, he decided to get going from this place he felt sure now was haunted.

As he stumbled back to his feet, wandering down the hall in a daze, filled with a silent longing. Much like his attempts to write down his name for Kato and Chase, it had been a great long time since he had last dreamt of talking.

An even longer time since he actually had talked. Yet, whenever he thought about it, he would get a warm shimmer of nostalgia, though no specific memory would come to mind, just a jumble of images. If he tried to bring any of them into focus, though, he would just end up giving himself a headache, always starting just behind his eyes, in his temples, and spreading backward.

Even as he thought once more of these things, it dawned on him just how hungry he was, how long since last he’d eaten. Chase’s failed attempt to score cheap breakfast was many hours past; back when he was still waiting for his friend, he had been a little hungry, but now the hunger was back, and it sank its teeth into him with a vengeance.

Around the next corner, he found another nook in the wall, this one occupied by a trio of vending machines. Neither Kato nor Chase trusted him with more than pocket-change, and only then if they happened to be feeling generous. Knowing that what little money he had jingling in one pocket wouldn’t get him very far, especially since the thing seemed to demand something called dollars instead of credits, he instead turned to one of Chase’s favorite uses to put the silent kid’s talents to. Unslinging his “armtop” computer, he strapped it to one arm and fired it up. Aiming the unit’s infrared port at the electronic “lock” panel on the vending machine, George loaded a special lock-cracking program and started to work.

At times like this, something seemed to click in George’s head, in a way he doubted he could explain to anyone even if he could speak. His mind became a flowing stream of numbers and information. Had long ago lost any sense of intimidation around even the most sophisticated of machines because he knew that, once he got that click, he would quickly start to understand, and somehow know things he hadn’t known a moment before.

So lost to him was the real world in this state, Chase or Kato often either guarded him or had him work from a safe location. So lost, he even forgot his sense of unease about this place and what he had seen. So lost to him was the real world that he wouldn’t have even noticed, say, a black-and-white panther coming down the hall.
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